His last name is familiar, especially to fans of late ’90s era boy bands.
But Baylee Littrell is utilizing his ambition and passion for music to find his own sound, one that leans more into country than pure pop.
The son of Backstreet Boys member Brian Littrell and wife Leighanne, Baylee, like his mom, is an Atlanta native.
Residing in Alpharetta, the family meshes all of their entertainment interests. Baylee released his debut album, “770-Country,” on BriLeigh Records — Brian and Leighanne’s label — in 2019 and that same year supported the Backstreet Boys as the opening act on their “DNA World Tour.”
He recently graduated high school via home-schooling, but Littrell isn’t pursuing immediate college plans. (If he were, his dream school since seventh grade has been University of Florida.) But, he says with a good-natured laugh, “Never count it out.”
His immediate agenda — along with working on new music — is a pair of performances at Eddie’s Attic, where he will join Australian country-pop duo Seaforth at 7 p.m. May 21 and 9 p.m. May 22.
In a recent chat, the humble Littrell also discussed his country influences and the advice he’s received from his parents.
Credit: Leighanne Littrell
Credit: Leighanne Littrell
Q: I saw you open for the Backstreet Boys in 2019 and was impressed by how poised you were in such a big venue. How did it feel from your side of the stage?
A: It was probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life. From introducing them (onstage) when I was 5 to doing two cover songs opening for them when I was 11 and 12 to being (their opening act), as much as it was the same thing it was completely different. That was the first arena tour they had done in the U.S. since I was little, and it was insane for them to see the crazy number of people showing up. It was like Europe over here again. Playing State Farm Arena, I about cried. It was so emotional to see my family take up an entire row.
Q: Did you find the crowds generally supportive?
A: Yes, through the whole tour. Especially Canada, they were so gracious to me. You’d get standing ovations. And the Midwest, too. St. Louis and Kansas City are two of the most memorable; my ears were ringing from (the crowd) cheering for me. By the last leg of the tour, word had gotten around that I was opening, and people were like, ‘He’s second-generation — let’s go support him.’ It was amazing. The L.A. crowds were great, too. I grew up a bit in L.A., which felt like a hometown crowd. And the New Jersey crowds were so great. They were like the Atlanta crowd and made you feel at home.
Q: What was it about country music that made it the style you wanted to pursue?
A: (I started) right around the time Backstreet Boys had collaborated with Florida Georgia Line. I wasn’t as familiar with new country as old-school country. I grew up choosing to go spend time with my grandparents rather than with my friends. They would pick me up, and we’d listen to Merle Haggard, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline. I grew up with these country oldies and that made me want to do this. After I did Broadway (the musical “Disaster!”) in 2016, I talked to my parents about wanting to sing. So for a year, I worked on my voice, and in 2018, we started the country journey, and it just made sense. I said to everyone, I want to be real with this. Georgia is home, these are my roots. Country has always felt personal to me. It takes me back to being in the backseat of my grandparents’ car. They’re the greatest supporters of me other than my parents.
Q: Aside from those classic country artists, who are some of your influences?
A: I have to say with new artists, I love the direction that a lot of them are going and having more diversity. I would say Hardy is a huge one because of his country-rock influence. When I think of more relevant artists, John Mayer is a huge influence on my music. Brian McKnight, Boyz II Men. Smash that in with country, and you get this hodgepodge of music.
Q: What kind of advice do you get from your dad about working in the music business?
A: Mom and Dad both keep me humble and in check when it’s very easy to lose yourself, even starting out. My dad has always said, stay in check. My mom says, stay determined, and stay hungry. They’ve both been huge inspirations. From my mom being an actor for years and moving to L.A. and my dad, a Kentucky boy moving to Orlando with no idea what would happen, they both decided their goals — and they both fulfilled them.
Q: You have a new single out (“Some Guys”), but what is the status of another album?
A: It’s in the works. I’m hoping to get some new music out this year, but I’m really taking my sweet time on this record. I have two songs recorded, and all of my stuff on this record will be original. I’m going to record more in June. I’ve been going to Nashville quite a bit to record (with Daniel Ross of Big Machine Music). The songs we’ve done have been with a full live band, and it feels incredible. I feel like I’m finding my sound now.